I was at dinner with a friend last week. I felt like a struck gold when I found this authentic spanish resturant in Walnut Creek, CA. A perfect meeting place for me and my friend, not to mention Spanish food umm yes please!
This place did not disappoint at all. It was cool but not stuffy, airy but cozy and the food was everything you want Spanish food to be. Flavorful, rich, and comforting. As we caught up, something happened. I wonder if this has ever happened to you. I was sharing my feeling about going to Spain for one year. I am fully funded and preparing to go now. As I shared, I heard the words come out of my mouth and they were a surprise me:
"I am going not only for my dream to work with women rescued from trafficking but for every women who has the same calling but can't go."
I stopped talking because we both were beginning to tear up. My mind quickly went through the handful of people who were supporting me financially with the specific pull because they themselves are called where they are. The reasons maybe they have little babies, maybe it was the dream of the adult daughter who has passed early, maybe it's the young married couple that are still figuring out what life will look like for them.
In that moment I was overwhelmed with gratitude that I was being sent. I think about Isaiah who calls back to The Lord "here I am send me!" because God is looking for those he can send. I didn't choose to go, rather God has been and is sending me.
As you probably have heard...I am officially FULLY FUNDED and getting close to departing for Spain. I was equal parts excited and nervous as this reality settled in my heart. I read a text from a sweet friend who stated they wanted to join my team. I knew that with this partnership I had met my last goal for fundraising.
10 months later from my approval date God had done it. I began to tear up thinking about moments I doubted, struggled, felt insecure, felt encouraged, had break through, and experienced the grace of His provision with each partner.
Now, I am looking ahead. At what is next. I don't know if I am quite ready, but when will I feel completely ready? It is time. I still have some work ahead of me with visa, packing, language skills, and saying goodbye. My heart grieves to leave but it pulled towards Spain in hopeful obedience to God.
So here we go!
Missions as a Single Person
Maybe you have noticed like I have, that their are many single amazing women going out to the mission field.
I have been called to missions since I was 16 years old. The weight of this calling got heavier and heavier as my own hearts desires for a family and marriage seemed to get further and further as I walked closer to being a full time missionary.
It took my a while to full surrender to the call no matter my unmet desires. I remember in January 2020 I laid down all my desire for myself and picked up commitment to do whatever God would ask me to do.
You see, I had done ministry and life as a single person for 26 years and I genuinely enjoy my life. I also sensed I was in a preparing and training season and not fully in my life's calling yet. However, I would always have these moments sometimes many, sometimes few. Where I would deeply ache in the core of who I am for a family. Not only ache for them pray and sense the purpose of my future child and marriage even when I have never met them.
To my single sisters, who desire family and marriage, I would encourage you to pray for you future family, marriage, husband, and your self. Sow seeds into your future spiritually and where you don't know what to pray invite Holy Spirit to come help you.
My video below it a letter I wrote to the younger version of myself. I am so thankful for my season as a single person. It has made me who I am and it is a special time with God. He met me, and continues to do, in my deepest desires and sorrows. God is faithful and good.
We can trust the story He is writing on our lives.
In my missionary story I have many different puzzle pieces but one of the first was my first overseas missions trip with Global Passion Ministries. They are a Northern Californian non-profit ministry that is passionate about seeing people having a missions experience and those called becoming missionaries.
My story is why Global Passion exists and I am so happy they do. I had a wonderful missions experience with them in Nicaragua in 2012. I came home not thinking of missions work for my life but I did come home loving missions, God and His people more and wanting to serve Him more.
Down the line, the seed of Global Passion and many others have blossomed in me to making me the missionary I am today. I got the opportunity to be apart of their staff from 2018 until today as I am transition to the field full time.
I am so grateful for Steve Edwards and the staff at Global Passion for all the wonderful work they do!
If you are called to missions are want to experience missions locally or internationally, connect with Global Passion Ministries or find them on Instagram/Facebook @globalpassion.
YOU could have the opportunity to see first hand how Global Passion works. Join me on March 27th at Global Passion's REACH 1 Event. I will be sharing more about myself and the missions work I will do in Spain. This is a great event to be equipped and connected with other missionaries!
Wow! One year ago today I got on a plane (what's that like) and left for Spain. I was very excited and had been anticipating this trip for sometime. I remember thinking and dreaming on the plane ride over what my trip would be like. Would God speak a powerful loud way or would he whisper in my heart. Would this be the place or is the place that gets me to THE place? Will I click with the team member there?
Yet even in the plane over, as I put my head phones in to listen to worship music. I felt God suddenly remind me of my first ever overseas missions experience in Nicaragua with Global Passion Ministries. The founder of Global Passion Steve Edwards and now good friend was the trip leader with my youth group. As clear as day I recalled him turning to me and complimenting me saying "you look very Spanish today!" I was brought back to the dark loud airplane I was in heading to Spain and sensed God say "see I have been planting seed for a looooong time". I smiled and teared up and this realization that in fact I was always a missionary, I just didn't always know it.
So Happy Spain-aversary to ME! Thank you for joining me on this jounrey and coming on mission with me, Marissa.
Pray For Spain
Join me today as I pray for Spain.
I was encouraged and saddened to have a video call with my team leader last week. She informed me that Spain as much of Europe is it's third wave of the Coronavirus. This means for people they are largely isolated within their homes and they are not able to travel between the different Spanish regions.
Yet, God is moving in mighty ways. Though the virus has meant devastation in some ways, in others it has opened unique ministry doors.
So would you pray with me today for Spain?
<<Pray for the end of the virus devastation and for people to recover physically but also mentally and emotionally. There is a clear rise in mental health issues.
<<Pray for all the women and child yet to be rescued from sexual slavery in Spain. While stats on trafficking in general are difficult to interrupt we know that Spain is:
#1 for destination trafficking
#2 for revenue of trafficking
#3 for consumption of trafficking
Pray Matthew 18:18 "Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 "For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ."
What the Enemy has meant for evil God makes good!
In the Sexual Slavery conversation, we can not neglect to talk about the Restoration of survivors. Unfortunately, restoration work is the least supported step in the rescue process here in the States and certainly the rest of the world.
The reality is that for a US survivor it takes on average three years to find healing from their trauma. If we consider all the Sexual Slavery Factors, there are so many elements to the survivors healing. The need for restoration homes, a safe place for a survivor to find healing is high.
"There are an estimated 313,000 new victims of sex trafficking in the US annually,
and under 550 beds in the US to house survivors when they are rescued."
-The Justice Reform
We are extremely under resourced right now for the survivors needs. This is true not only in the States but also the rest of the world. I believe with all that I am that the only way for people to find complete healing is through the POWER and LOVE of Jesus Christ. I also believe that we ALL have a crucial role to play in this restoration story.
You may be asking "what can I do? What could I possibly have to offer a trauma survivor?" The truth is, you do have something very unique to offer- yourself.
YOU may be called to pray for the rescue and restoration of survivors, YOU may be called to give away time, items, or blessing gifts to benefit survivors, YOU may be called to financially partner with organization or missionaries working directly with survivors, YOU may be called to go yourself and pave the way for healing for the survivor.
Don't limit what God could do through you! I would encourage you to take some time to ponder what role you are being called to play in someone restoration story.
World Wide Sexual Slavery Factors
You probably know that trafficking happens all around out world but do you know why? Do you know the factors that keep this multi-billion industry going? Do you know who is being targeted and taken advantage of.
The image above is a great starting place to begin to understand the cycle of abuse and control traffickers aim to hold over survivors. This image is from the Polaris Project, a US National organization that founded the national hotline for trafficking.
The pattern you can find in most every story of sexual slavery is this:
Vulnerability- poverty, orphaned, neglected, lack of resources, disability, unstable homes environment, youth, abuse etc.
Deception/Debt- promised a job, college course, sent away falsely, sold unknowingly etc. Traffickers will tell victims they "owe" large amounts of money and that they need to "work" to pay it off. However, the victims never sees this money and debt always increases.
Isolation- Isolation is key to keeping a victim in the control of a trafficker. The trafficking aspect of sex trafficking refers to the victim being transported but this is not only for trafficker to sell but rather to have the victim break ties with any family or friends or aspects of their previous life. The trafficker works to make the victim feel isolated and unwanted as if they had nowhere else to go.
Made more Vulnerable- Victims have their documentation taken away, they can contract diseases, often are malnourished, live in poor conditions, and are physically abused. The trafficker will continue to keep their victim cut off and in need of them.
This cycle is a dangerous trap to anyone vulnerable. Traffickers actively work to keep their victims vulnerable in these ways and more.
Prayers for the Vulnerable
Pray for children in vulnerable situations. Pray for their protection (Psalms 91:1-5). Pray for children in unsafe homes that they would find rest, safety, and be covered by heavenly care.
Pray for people in sexual slavery in our world today. Pray that where there is darkness God’s light would shine, and by His Spirit be with the men, women and children in this vulnerable situation.
Take a prayer walk in a different neighborhood than your own and pray for each home you see. Pray for the families, children, and home life. Pray for healthy connections, pray that any danger to children would be exposed to safe people, and pray for safe and loving environments.
Pray for law enforcement, social workers, clinical professionals, and government workers who are interacting with vulnerable people. Pray they would have wisdom in their work. Pray they would approach each vulnerable person with sensitivity and care. Pray they would have clarity of mind about how to handle the new challenges that COVID-19 has presented.
Pray for those who have been neglected and are forgotten. Pray for the elderly person that lives alone that they would find connection. Pray for young adults who live alone without community. Pray for the courage to reach out for help and divine connections to be made.
Sexual Slavery in the States
Often times as an American when we think of trafficking we get images of Liam Neeson busting through bolted doors and beating up armed foreigners in order to save his daughter. However, in the States this is not usually the case. More often than not a girl who is being trafficked in the States is being exploited by a trusted boyfriend, family member, or friend. There is a relationship of some kind where the trafficker will "groom" his or her victim.
Rebecca Bender, a survivor of trafficking and founder of Rebecca Bender Ministries. Rebecca herself was trafficked by a notorious pimp who she believed to be her loving boyfriend. She was lured to Las Vegas where she began forced prostitution for six years. Now, Rebecca works with survivors and organization world wide to being understanding to this restoration work.
I have heard her speak and I have heard her story in full. The home she was in was raided by the FBI and soon she found hope and restoration in Jesus Christ. She is a living testimony of God rescuing and restoring a broken, beaten, traumatized, abused, and neglected person. When I heard her story I was overcome with hope that if she can be rescued and thrive in her life so can others! This is Rebecca's belief as well and is why she has a restoration program for women rescued from trafficking.
If you want to learn more about working with survivors of trafficking in the States, you can follow the link below for all her resources including a book she wrote, Roadmap to Redemption.
Thank you for being here, it matters. Together we can see an end to sexual slavery in our lifetime!
Rebecca Bender Resources
My name is Marissa Deraya; Global Worker with Project Rescue serving women and children of Spain.
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